Going by Annual Education Statistics 2017’s primary net enrolment rate (PNER), at least 1.2 percent or about 1,039 primary-age children are out of school or are not enrolled in any forms of structured traditional learning.

PNER is the total number of children between 6 and12 years old in primary education (PP-VI) expressed in percentage of the corresponding population in a given school year.

Those children who are not enroled are expected to be in the remote areas, children of nomadic communities and migrant populations, children with learning disabilities whose special needs are not currently catered for, and those who dropped out of school.

It is assumed that children who are already old enough to go to school (six years old) could be from the remote areas where they have to walk longer distance to commute to school. It is also assumed that some might enroll or return to school.

However, the gross primary enrolment ratio (GPER) over the past few years has declined, according to the annual education statistics. The decline is described as positive development. GPER is the total student enrolment in primary education (PP-VI), regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population (6-12 years) in a given school year.

The decline is indication of the decrease in under-aged and over-aged children enroled in the education system.

This year, 94,184 primary students (PP-VI) enroled in 515 primary and secondary schools, a decrease from 96,654 in 2016. About 1,950 students enroled in 90 extended classrooms across the country, which comprises 1.2 percent of the total enrolment in school education system.

The decrease was attributed to saturation in terms of primary school enrolment, meaning increase in the extended classrooms, enrolling right age children, and also due to having covered the out of school children starting from 2010.

This has lead to stabilisation in the enrolment in the early grades, leading to decline in school going age population.

According to the report, decline in the pre-primary enrolment was considered as a positive development. This development is seen as an indication of the decrease in under-aged and over-aged children enroled at the primary level.

However, the reasons why some children are out of school may need to be further reconfirmed with in-depth study, said the report.

Meanwhile, enrolment in classes between VII to X increased from 40,855 in 2008 to 54,978 in 2017.

There are 307 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Centres. A total of 7,250 children are enrolled in these centers facilitated by 672 facilitators.

There are 515 schools – 479 public schools including 60 central schools, and 36 private schools.

The total enrolment number from pre-primary (PP) to Class XII this year is 168,092. The 60 Central Schools have 46,081 students – 22,747 boys and 23,334 girls.

Yangchen C Rinzin